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April 13, 2011

Rabbi Accused Of Bribing Witness In Lebovits Molestation Case

Baruch Lebovits trial A Brooklyn rabbi is under arrest and facing charges of bribery and witness tampering for allegedly paying an individual to accuse another rabbi of sexual abuse.

 

Rabbi Accused of Bribing Witness in Case Against Other Rabbi
A rabbi has been arrested and accused of witness tampering and bribery.
By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz

A Brooklyn rabbi is under arrest and facing charges of bribery and witness tampering for allegedly paying an individual to accuse another rabbi of sexual abuse.

Sources tell NBC New York that Samuel Kellner was arrested Tuesday night. The Brooklyn district attorney has scheduled a news conference but has declined comment ahead of the announcement.

Kellner is accused of paying a witness to say he was abused by Rabbi Baruch Lebovits, who was sentenced a year ago to 32 years in prison after he was convicted of child molestation.

Defense lawyers for Lebovits were expected in court Wednesday to try and argue their client should be released.

It was not immediately clear whether Kellner had an attorney.

I heard earlier this morning that Kellner was arrested. Kellner and another man were allegedly trying to extort a large sum of money from Lebovits' son, who is very wealthy. Lebovits, I'm told, is filing an appeal of his conviction today.

Update 3:22 PM CST – Here's the press release from the Brooklyn DA:

KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES ANNOUNCES THE INDICTMENT OF SAMUEL KELLNER, CHARGED WITH PAYING A WITNESS TO TESTIFY FALSELY IN A SEX CRIME CASE

CHARGES INCLUDE PAYING A CHILD WITNESS TO TESTIFY FALSELY AND ATTEMPTING TO EXTORT MONEY FROM A DEFENDANT TO GET HIS CASE DROPPED

            Brooklyn, April 13, 2011 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes announced the indictment of Samuel Kellner, 49, charged with paying a child to testify falsely that Borough Park rabbi, Baruch Lebovits, had sexually abused him. Kellner is also charged with attempting to extort $400,000 from the Lebovits family to prevent other children from accusing the rabbi and to stop those who had come forward from pursuing their cases.

            The indictment charges that, in 2008, after Kellner learned Lebovits had been accused of sexually molesting a child, Kellner paid a second child $10,000 to falsely claim Lebovits also abused him. Both children testified before a Kings County Grand Jury which ultimately charged Lebovits with both misdemeanor and felony sex abuse counts, according to the indictment against Kellner. Kellner next sent emissaries to the Lebovits family demanding $400,000, in exchange for which, Kellner would prevent those witnesses from testifying at trial and prevent a third “victim” from coming forward, according to the indictment. The Lebovits family did not comply with the demand, and in November 2008, a third “victim” did come forward, the indictment charges. Kellner later threatened to bring a fourth “victim” to testify, according to the indictment. 

            In March 2010 Lebovits was convicted of eight counts of Criminal Sexual Act in the Third Degree, with the testimony of the third witness. The second witness did not testify at the trial. Lebovits was sentenced to 10-and-two-thirds to 32 years in prison.

            Kellner is charged with Five Counts of Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, Two Counts of Perjury in the First Degree, One Count of Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree and Two Counts of Criminal Solicitation in the Fourth Degree. If convicted, he faces up to 21 years in prison.

            An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

            The case is being prosecuted by Counsel to the Rackets Division Nicholas J. Batsidis. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.

Update 3:24 PM CST – A source tells me that Rabbi Samuel Kellner is a brother-in-law of Rabbi Shimon Weiser, the man behind the VosIzNeias ban.

Update 3:56 PM CST – Here is the New York Daily News report [Hat Tip: Burich]:

Prosecutors defend rabbi's child-molestation conviction despite charging making false accusations
BY Oren Yaniv • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Prosecutors stood by a Brooklyn rabbi's child-molestation conviction Wednesday, even as they charged a Hasidic man with shaking down his family and bribing someone to make false accusations.

Baruch Lebovits, 60, received a sentence of 10 2/3 to 32 years in prison a year ago, based on the testimony of a 22-year-old man who said the rabbi sexually abused when he was 16.

The trial and stiff penalty sent shockwaves through Borough Park's tight-knit Jewish community.


But Samuel Kellner, 49, who brought the victim to prosecutors' attention, was charged with paying another man $10,000 to accuse Lebovits of abuse.

Kellner was also charged with trying to blackmail Lebovits' family out of $400,000 to make the cases disappear.

"Child abuse has to be prosecuted vigorously, but we also have to be careful about false complaints," said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, defending a decision to prosecute the case.

An investigation into Lebovits - a wealthy man who owned a travel agency - began when Kellner's close relative accused the rabbi of inappropriate touching, sources said.

Lebovits was hit with a misdemeanor, but when a second accuser - the one paid by Kellner - came forward, the rabbi was slapped with felony counts, prosecutors said.

The charges relating to Kellner's relative were eventually dismissed, and the second accuser later refused to testify at trial.

Meanwhile, representatives for Kellner told the Lebovits family to pay up or another victim would come forward, prosecutors said.

When the family refused, a third accuser stepped forward and gave testimony in March 2010 that led to Lebovits' conviction.

A source told the Daily News that third accuser was also tainted, having been offered $50,000 to take the stand.

"We believe everything was premeditated all along. All they wanted was the money," said a relative of Lebovits who asked not to be named. "The DA has him on recordings."

An appellate division panel will decide later Wednesday whether to release Lebovits on bail pending his appeal.

Prosecutors oppose any release, arguing the victim who testified at trial was truthful.

The rabbi is represented on appeal by high-power attorney Alan Dershowitz and his original defense lawyer Arthur Aidala.

"We are satisfied and relieved by the DA's actions to follow up on the leads we gave him," Aidala said. "It goes a long way to prove our theory that all these charges are false."

Kellner was arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court for 10 counts of grand larceny, perjury and conspiracy that can land him behind bars for up to 21 years.

He pleaded not guilty and his lawyer Israel Fried described him as an advocate of sexual-abuse victims, which made him a lightening rod in the ultra-orthodox neighborhood.

"It seems reasonable that people in the community who are aware of him bringing people to justice will have a vendetta against my client," he said.

With Simone Weichselbaum

Update 4:35 PM CST – VIN is reporting Lebovits was released on $250,000 bail.

Comments

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i guess this shows that it is possible for a "victim" to lie.

i guess this shows that it is possible for a "victim" to lie.

Posted by: tooclose2detroit | April 13, 2011 at 08:22 AM


this was not a victim

I see from your comment we should release all prisoners since VICTIMS could lie. Therefore one can never ever arrest anyone.
I guess this proves your thinking

No, Seymour-I would say that we should at least "take a breath" before we go and rip into someone thats accused-if you or someone you liked were accused of something like this, I would think that you would expect the same.-

of course I would however this does not mean that many accusers are lairs

in addition the same should be applied to Samuel Kellner maybe he is being set up to get Lebovits released

the other problem is if I remember there was more than one accuser

ITS TIME FOR THESE SO CALLED ASKUNIM TO GET THEIR PUNISHMENT FOR TAKING THE HALACHA IN THEIR HANDS, NO MATTER WHAT EVER A PERSON DID YOU MUST HAVE A WRITTEN STATEMENT FROM A RESPECTED RABBI HOW TO PROCEED, CHILD MOLESTATION IS NOT NEW IN OUR COMMUNITY IT WAS BEFORE THE WAR AS WELL AND NO ONE EVER WAS ARRESTED FOR 32 YEARS, AND WE DONT SEE ANY CHANGES IN OUR COMMUNITY.

WHY DO U TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPS??????

Victims never lie. Neither do police, nor prosecutors. It was probably just a repressed memory. Give 'em an anatomically correct doll to play with, and the repressed memories just spurt out.

Kellner's son was one of the three accusers in the case. Lebowitz was only convicted in the R case. The other cases were pending trial.

If you followed my comments on this case all along you would see that I was alerting everyone that things are not what they seem.

Kellner is a low-life much worse than Lebowitz. The father of victim R. is an even bigger low-life. He abused his wife and son much worse than Lebowitz was accused of.

So while this case was a perversion of justice from the start, there still remains one fact: Lebowitz has a thing for young boys. The only difference is that he is not a predator. He does not seek out anyone. The worse he ever does is low level touching with a fully willing participant. Sometimes the participants had similar predelictions and sometimes they did it in order to feed a drug habit.

As I said from the start, Lebowitz is a pig, but he is not the type of person a parent needs to fear, who deserves to be locked up for 32 years.

Keep in mind that this is not the only sordid twist in this case. There are still pending matters before the court and there is still the case of Simon Taub who was arrested last year for extorting Lebowitz's son with similar allegations.

Someone should buy the movie rights quickly, before it gets even crazier.

Wrong person arested

Arrest IMMIDIATELY the DA The Jodge And the entire JURRY

forty eighter-youre right he doesnt need to be locked up for 32 years, he in reality needs to be executed so others can be safe.

Lebovits has victimized over one hundred boys, performing oral sex on them and other despicable acts. This is very well known throughout the Orthodox community. The fact that certain lowlives like Taub and Kellner tried to extort money from his son does not take away from Lebovits' guilt. To the idiot who is raving about taking the halacha into your own hands, yes we must follow the halacha which states that a victim must report a rodef, like Lebovits, to the police. There are written psaks from the Shulchan Aruch all the way down to Rav Elyashiv. The victim that testified against Lebovits that led to his conviction had nothing to do with Kellner's extortion plot. I hope the DA sees through the smoke and mirrors and keeps the pervert locked up. Enough neshamos have been destroyed by this sexual predator already.

Steve,
Where do you get your numbers? The DA knows of perhaps 3 cases. His community in munkatch deny that he molested anyone -and 'all of borough park knew' is heard from only a small cabal of activists. But 100 is clearly unsubstantiated number by ANY account.

As I said from the start, Lebowitz is a pig, but he is not the type of person a parent needs to fear, who deserves to be locked up for 32 years.

There you go again. A "pig" like Lebovits takes innocent children and young boys and grooms them until he gets what he wants from them. He is extremely dangerous. It would be a travesty if he is released and allowed back on the streets to prey on more children.

Thank you, Steve.

Please can you post the Shulchan Aruch psak here?

One thing we should all learn from this story (especially Shmarya and other bloggers) is that you can't take a 'victim's' word at face value.

Paul,

You and Munkatch can keep denying all you want. Everyone knows about The Atlantic City Rebbe. The fact that "only" three victims filed charges against him doesn't mean he "only" molested three children. Pedophiles are like popcorn lovers. They can't stop at one, or three, or even ten.

wish i woulda said that.

strivingfortruth,

I'm glad you asked. Please see Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat, 388:12 "Anyone who is a menace (meitzer, see Shach's emendation) to society and is causing them suffering, it is permitted to hand him over to a gentile, to strike him, imprison him and to monetarily fine him." Also see the Rema in the same siman who extends this permit to those engaged in financial fraud. Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky undoubtedly based his psak to allow Alan Sakowitz to turn in ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, on this Rema. A child molester poses a much greater threat to society than a ponzi schemer. For the Sakowitz/Rothstein story see below link:

http://www.vosizneias.com/80774/2011/04/13/miami-fl-lawyer-r-shmuel-advised-me-to-turn-in-fraudster-saying-it-is-not-mesira

Pedophiles are like popcorn lovers. They can't stop at one, or three, or even ten.

It's a compulsive behavior. So, you're right. There are probably quite a few victims who have not come forward.

I think that you should of mentioned that Kellner's brother is the famous "Rabbi" NR son in law.

Kids to pedophiles are like Pringles. Once you pop you can't stop.

I love how when evidence comes up that damns the frum guys, you guys all scream "you see, he is guilty", "follow due process" etc. When something like this happens, the only rational response is to say, " lets wait and see what the truth is". but you cant say it, cos you just use the case to express your hatred and frustration with frumkeit.
For the record, I think he is guilty as sin, but your biased reactions to this bit of news is priceless.

Steve,
Answer the question... 100?
where did you get that number - and if you tell me on a craps table i'll likely believe that ;)

Paul,

I got that number from talking to his victims and several people from the community. There are at least 100. More than that, he has already spawned a second generation of molesters. David Y. Greenfeld and Meir Dascalowitz are child molesters who claim that Lebovits molested them as well. Lebovits himself claims to have been molested by his uncle. Molestation begets molestation begets molestation...

Steve,

First,its a big om hatratzes to say that you can arrest someone to be put in jail by quoting the schulcan arech or any current gedolim.

Being that you are a knowledgeable person you should know better that each case is different and you cant arrest someone becuase Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky or any gadol was talking about a specific case.Each case you must ask separately and you know that.

Maybe its true that L he molested at least 100. You spoke with a 100? with 50? with20?

Its easy for every molester to say that they were molested too because they think it might help them in the defense.

You just stated two people who are under indictment for molesting and they claim that they were molested by L.
Without saying which one, i happened to know a bit about one of them and i can tell you that i wouldn't believe him a word. He is really a sick person,was caught numerous times stealing and even now he doesn't even grasp how in deep shit he is. So mention someone more credible.

Also,does it mean anything to you that Kellner's brother is NR son in law?

Steve,
I understand you spoke to 100 victims... Awesome!

I am guessing this is your full-time occupation, and if asked for by a prosecutor you could turn in this list. I sincerely hope you register your name with the DA- even Nochem Rosenberg hasn't claimed to have spoken to that many victims of a single perp. You could single-handedly do more for Sex abuse victims in NY than anyone has ever done!!!!

Dersheker,

We don't do the arresting, the police and DA do that. Our responsibility is to report rodfim and other societal menaces to the police. That is our chiyuv. If anyone was victimized by a sexual predator he must report his abuser, period. A child molester can and will molest again if he is not stopped. Also, knowing that they will be arrested serves as a strong deterrant for a pedophile not to act on his impulses. As for BML, I am through trying to convince those in denial. His conviction will stand and he will complete his sentence. As for Kellner's brother's son-in-law, what shaychus does that have to anything?

Roznberg Nuchem warning DA on Lebowits Case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=creN0jeYfdg

Really we don't do arresting? That's new to me. Of course i meant reporting. And reporting we need to ask a competent rav in each case and not bloggers or so called advocates.

The twist in the case about K's brother is NR son in law, i didn't expect that you should think that it means anything. I just wanted for people to know that and its important.

Chassid Shoteh! Next time you see a woman drowning in the ocean, will you stop to call your "competent rav" before jumping in? By the time you get through and get an answer, another life will have been destroyed.

I rather be a chosid shoteh then a chosid roshe and your comparison makes no sense.

I heard an unconfirmed rumor that BML is getting out on bail.

Steve you are the one sane voice on this blog. Did anyone really think the family of Lebovits would just take the verdict and forget about it? Of course they will try any number of moves to change his sentence. Didn't anyone else see this coming?
If you've lived in Boro-Park you would have know what was common knowledge: Lebovits likes boys! Even the Munkatcher Rebbe said to let him stay in Bais Medrish, to watch him and under no circumstances to let him go to the Mikveh!
I'm not impressed by the legal shenanigins now going on. I know the boy who testified against him and put him away was NOT bribed, and neither was his family!

What goes around comes around. K is in and L is OUT

Dersheker,

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but BML will be staying put for now:

From the AP:

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they believe the original victim and third man who came forward were legitimate, and that they would fight an appeal. The second witness — the one Kellner is accused of paying — didn't testify at the rabbi's trial.
"We continue to support the conviction," Hynes said.

If Kellner indeed tried to extort BML's son, he deserves to be locked up togethe with BML. Same goes for the other idiot, Simon Taub.

Thanks Moshe M. We need more people like yourself to come on here and speak the truth against these people who are Dover Shkarim.

why is every jew with a beard a rabbi? this guy isnt capable of even making a hamotzi on a radish. an am haaretz mideoraysa umiderabanan - i personally am ashamed to say that i know him. davening forget about it. minyan huh? what? his talis lies in his business and once in a while he would geb a drey and in and out in 3.5 minutes. thats a good day. rabbi? phooey. my unwashed backside!!!!

Deremes

the shuchan orach is very easy to understand it is very clear the rambam says the same thing

some people, do not need to ask a rov every time the wipe themselves

Mechl,

Who are you referring to, Lebovits or Kellner? Zeh N'veila V'Zeh Treifa.

Interesting, when a person is accused of being a pig there is a whole cadre of people saying we cant judge we have to see what happens. 'Innocent until proven guilty.' When this guy gets arrested every one rushes to conclusion why the double standard?

Psak Halacha about reporting suspected child molesters:

http://nuchemrocks.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-those-worried-about-mesira-or.html

Rav Elyashiv and others say it is permitted, as long as there is "raglayim Ledavar."

It is ridiculous to make a fuss about the fact that Kellner's brother is Nuchem Rosenberg's son-in-law. Kellner is also Shimon Weiser's brother-in-law.

In a world with large families everyone is related to everyone to some degree. The relationships don't prove anything.

Similarly, it is ridiculous to challenge Lebovit's conviction by pointing to another person's alleged attempt to extort him. Lebovits, like many serial abusers left many people with grievances against him. And yes, in a world where very few cases of abuse end up in court, some cases get settled off the record with financial compensation. This is one of the many regular functions of a the extortionists in the vaad hatznius.

So I say, aiylu v'aiylu. It is possible that the Lebovits conviction is sound and that the charges against Kellner are also true. However, on the latter, I will reserve judgment until we see all the evidence at trial.

I am inclined to believe that Kellner's initial allegations involving his relative were true. However, in desparation he may have embarked on an extortion scheme rather than wanting to go through the court system. If so, I feel sorry for him but alas he will have to pay the price.

"It is ridiculous to make a fuss about the fact that Kellner's brother is Nuchem Rosenberg's son-in-law. Kellner is also Shimon Weiser's brother-in-law."

It is ridiculous indeed, especially if it was posted by Yerechmiel Lopin, who IS NUCHEM ROSENBERG.

Yerechmiel Lopin, who IS NUCHEM ROSENBERG.

Posted by: Neier Kocker | April 14, 2011 at 11:22 PM

Lopin is NOT Nuchem Rosenberg. I know Lopin.

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